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Top : In The News : Walking Through Katrina, Pt 4

Walking Through Katrina, Pt 4

~ Lissa M. Lee

Thursday morning broke bright and early. Various members of the restaurant's crew who had stayed began to filter in during the day. We cleaned the place and prepared to serve people as soon as we had water.

My son's boss' wife's sister - now that's a mouth full - is married to the president of the largest bank in Gulfport. The day before the storm, they had evacuated as many people as they could, but he and the local officials locked themselves in the bank vault to weather the storm and be there to take charge as soon as it passed. When the storm ended and they felt they could come out, they opened the vault and found it was all that remained of the bank. The rest of the bank had been swept away.

Driving home Thursday afternoon, we discovered that power had been restored. My son's job and his home were untouched and back to normal within 3 days! What a resurrection! I was so relieved to know they would be fine.

Feeling things had settled enough to venture out and the supply of gasoline had become somewhat available, I decided to make the trip to check on my parents. It took us 90 minutes to make the 20 mile trip. We actually drove behind highway crews clearing the roadways for rescue workers to get to the Gulf Coast.

The sites I was looking at just kept overtaking me with grief. Trees, homes, cars, businesses - everything that represents people's lives - destroyed.

We finally made it my parent's home. My dad was riding around in his tractor clearing debris; my mom was trimming her shrubs. It was almost a typical day for them. Their trailer, although slightly damaged, was standing tall. They had no power, no water and no phones, but they were fine.

Once again, God had protected.

That afternoon I helped my daughter-in-law clean the house for the arrival of her dad, step-mother and sister. We slept, showered, refreshed and were safe in our beds.

How do you respond when for no apparent reason God's favor has surrounded you like a shield and others are literally struggling for survival? I don't know. I still don't. Everyday has become a challenge since Katrina.

Friday was spent cleaning my son's yard, barbequing in the backyard and enjoying the company. Many families find themselves in awkward situations when all the relatives and in-laws get together. I thank God everyday for my son's wife family. From the minute they became engaged, we were all of their family. It is strange to be closer to my son's in-laws, than my own relatives, but that's what has happened.

We all get together for Thanksgiving each year at my son's home. We laughed about how different this year would be. This year we would have so much more to be thankful for.

My daughter's boss had finally gotten through. He needed her to come back as quick as she could. They were running the store on a generator and terribly short handed. We had been told that we wouldn't be allowed back in, but I knew we needed to return.

Saturday morning we drove to a gas station at 5 am, to sit in line until 9 am to get gas to return home. We packed our belongings, were the first customer's my son served when they opened Saturday afternoon, kissed everyone and began the trip home.

Earlier that day we had made contact with my brother. He was in Memphis, stranded. They weren't letting anyone from the area return. He had found himself the companion of two elderly ladies who had been evacuated to Memphis. While we managed here, he had taken these ladies around and gotten them relocated to live in Memphis.

At this point, none of us knew what we would return to.

Driving the same back roads to our home, I had to fight the tears of grief. I kept seeing destruction and brokenness everywhere. I kept thinking the further west I go, surely it will get better.but it didn't. For miles and miles I just saw more and more of the same.

Arriving at my daughter's store, we saw a boarded door where vandals had tried to break into the store. Her boss looks so relieved to have help. Like everywhere, people were lined up outside the store only being allowed in a few at a time. He told us that the Wednesday that they opened they prepared over 1,000 prescriptions for people who had gotten this far from New Orleans, we are only 26 miles from there. Our area rests on the north side of Lake Ponchartrain. Everything south of us, we had been told, was severely damaged or destroyed.

My new job, the job I had prayed for fourteen years, which I had only been at 6 weeks, lay on the banks of the river that drained into the lake. Would it be there?

Soberly we left the store and drove the 3 blocks to our apartment. In 1997 a tornado had ripped through our neighborhood. At that time I thought it looked like a war zone and it taken well over 2 years for things to be normal again.

This time the damage from the tornado looked minor compared to what I was seeing now. But as we pulled into the parking lot, my neighbor, whom I had worried about, was outside raking leaves, stacking fallen branches and trying to fill his mind with activity. I was so glad to see him; I think my hug broke some ribs!

Out of all the apartments in the complex, mine was the only that suffered real damage. A tree had fallen on the roof puncturing it and breaking the windows, then it rolled down the side knocking the meter pan off and spinning it into the side, busting a hole in the side wall. However, everything was just as we left it. No water damage. Nothing had moved. Of course the refrigerator left a little something to be desired, but all in all, I had my things, I just needed a new place for them.

Catching my breath one more time and thanking God for the protection of the "things" I valued, I began to drive toward my new job. Again trekking around debris and rescue workers already on the scene, I headed south.

Everywhere was destruction. It looked like a ghost town. Turning the corner, we pulled into the driveway at work. Unlocking the door I was met with a gush of cold air. Not only was the building safe, dry and unharmed, the power was on and the phone line was miraculously working.

I called my boss, who was with family in Baton Rouge and asked if we could sleep here. She was so thrilled we were okay and that everything was still intact, she assured me it was no problem.

Part 5

Submitted on : 20-Sep-2005

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

Top : In The News : Walking Through Katrina, Pt 4

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